Rep. Steve King’s (R-Iowa) congressional district isn’t the whitest in America. It’s not even in the top 10 percent of whitest districts. It’s also not the least Hispanic district — on that metric, it ranks 150th.
But King himself has, over the past few years, established himself firmly as the most passionate congressional opponent of immigration and defender of the white demographic majority in the country — a statement that bears certain implications that, by now, are all but unavoidable.
We’ve walked through King’s history of comments about white America and immigration in the past, but given two new examples this month, it’s worth another overview.
There was the time in 2013 when he offered a President Trump-like delineation of the value of young immigrants while explaining his opposition to the Dream Act.
“Some of them are valedictorians — and their parents brought them in,” King said.
“But they aren’t all valedictorians,” he added later. “They weren’t all brought in by their parents. For every one who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there who weigh 130 pounds — and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert. Those people would be legalized with the same act.”
Most of the drugs that come across the border from Mexico come through established border checkpoints, it’s worth noting. Though that is hardly the most important part of King’s comments.
There was the time during the Republican Convention in 2016 when he was on MSNBC. Another panelist had just lamented the density of older white Republicans at the convention.
“This ‘old white people’ business does get a little tired,” King replied. “I’d ask you to go back through history and figure out, where are these contributions that have been made by these other categories of people that you’re talking about, where did any other subgroup of people contribute more to civilization?”
“Than white people?” host Chris Hayes replied.
“Than . . . than Western civilization itself,” King replied.
That’s King’s regular hedge when he’s defending the primacy of white Americans: He’s only worried about American culture, heritage and civilization. It has nothing to do with race, he insists.
Shortly before that MSNBC appearance, King came under fire when footage from inside his local congressional office showed that he had a Confederate flag among a collection of small flags on his desk. As you may recall, Iowa was not part of the Confederacy.
In March of last year, he echoed Dutch politician Geert Wilders in a tweet. Wilders made his mark in his nation’s political discourse with energetic excoriations of the threat posed by immigrants.
“We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies” is a remarkably concise example of King’s worldview, implying that the sum of American civilization and culture was fully independent from the slow migration of people from all over the world to North America. Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke agreed.
The previous September, King had also tweeted about Wilders, this time lamenting the “cultural suicide” that accompanied “demographic transformation.”
In other words, the culture of the United States, or of “the West,” is inextricable from a white majority.
Shortly after Trump took office, King celebrated some good news: A young person who was allowed to stay in the United States under Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was deported. King offered the Border Patrol a toast.
The person deported was Juan Manuel Montes, who came to the United States with his parents when he was 9. He didn’t have his wallet on him showing that he was protected from deportation, so, within three hours, he was deported after 14 years in the country.
When Trump toyed with granting citizenship to young people like Montes, who had come to the country illegally as minors, King lamented the possibility.
“They came here to live in the shadows, and we’re not denying them that opportunity to live in the shadows,” King said to NBC’s Kasie Hunt.
Earlier this month, King reiterated his thoughts on migration in a novel way. He retweeted an image of a Breitbart article that talked about opposition to migration in Italy with the comment, “Europe is waking up . . . Will America . . . in time?”
Of course, migration in Southern Europe looks nothing like migration in the United States. Unrest in Syria and Iraq has led to a spike in migration in Greece and Italy in recent years, while migration from Mexico into the United States has slowed.
But it wasn’t the content of the retweet that was significant, it was who King was retweeting. Specifically, Mark Collett, a once self-described “Nazi sympathizer” who has regularly joined Duke’s radio show — including Friday.
Speaking of Friday:
By this point in the article, it should come as no surprise that King sees a half-dozen young Hispanic men sitting at an airport and assumes that their futures hold crime, military service or gang membership. That’s King’s consistently demonstrated default assumption about migrants from south of the border, a group that he worries poses a threat to “our civilization” and “culture.”
The contents of this article might be summarized more succinctly in a short phrase. Feel free to do so if you feel so inclined.